It's finally here, and I'm as giddy as a schoolgirl. Or some other hackneyed cliché, anyway. One of my principal concerns over the winter was that analyzing the Mariners so much on a daily basis would take the fun out of the season, but somewhere around the sixth inning last night, I knew that was hogwash - I'm ready to hoot and holler and generally become a nuisance to everyone within earshot.
I haven't done a comprehensive season preview for the Mariners this year; I think I've expressed my feelings about the team, and its individual players, often enough over the winter that such a preview would be unnecessary. For what it's worth, I did put together analyses of each of the team's starters. If you missed them:
Felix Hernandez (sort of)
With that said, everyone does a season preview. It's tradition. Who am I to disobey such a time-honored practice? And so, for the sake of, um, being like everybody else, I present to you Jeff's Really Really Quick Look at the 2005 Seattle Mariners. This will be as short as possible.
Ichiro: Great player. Won't repeat 2004, but won't repeat 2003. Still the face of the franchise.
Jeremy Reed: Mark Kotsay without the awesome defense.
Adrian Beltre: Incredible player who doesn't need to repeat 2004 to be worth the money. Shut up, Joe Sheehan.
Richie Sexson: An unknown mixture of tremendous offensive potential and enormous risk. Only time will tell. Schrodinger's first baseman.
Bret Boone: He'll be better, but the peak is gone. Could have Jeff Kent's 1997.
Raul Ibanez: Won't repeat against lefties. League-average DH.
Randy Winn: Has essentially been the same player for three years. Make it four. Probably a small decline here.
Miguel Olivo: Hits like Eli Marrero, defends like a wet napkin. Will surpass a .300 OBP.
Pokey Reese: Great defense. Extensive medical history. Might die.
Bench: Downright awful. Might not be a .300 OBP in the bunch, although Scott Spiezio should bounce back and become somewhat useful. Will get a huge boost if and when Bucky's knee is re-attached. It's a good thing Justin Leone isn't up here to screw up whatever management is trying to create.
Could be worse!
Jamie Moyer: Will take back a few homers, but he's finally over the hill. Will throw season's first pitch at 5:05. Season's first pitch will arrive at 5:08.
Gil Meche: Not an ace. Not horrible. Throws strikes, gets hit. ERA in the low- to mid-4's.
Bobby Madritsch: Slight regression, but he's the best pitcher in the rotation.
Aaron Sele: Best case: Kirk Rueter. Worst case: you.
Ryan Franklin: Not good, but would look okay with this team defense. Might not get the chance.
Joel Pineiro: Great stuff, has a lot to learn about pitching. Gets lots of help from Safeco. Will finish in high-3's/low-4's. Needs to be healthy, or we're screwed.
Felix Hernandez: He'll show up, and he'll be good, but he won't be amazing. Will probably struggle with command early on, but finish well.
Would look a whole lot better with Sherrill, Atchison, and Soriano.
Ryan Franklin: Yeah, again. Showed decent peripherals out of the bullpen earlier in his career. Should be a useful long reliever.
Ron Villone: Remember Doug Henry?
Shigetoshi Hasegawa: Can't be that bad again, but he's still a spare part.
Jeff Nelson: Right-handed Mike Myers. Better not be used against lefties. Reasonable bet to have a worse walk rate than the next guy.
Matt Thornton: Why?
Julio Mateo: Has good command, and gets his strikeouts, but he's homer-prone, which will keep him away from high-leverage innings.
JJ Putz: Over/under: 8 saves. A fungible reliever in an important role is still a fungible reliever, no matter what Ed Wade tells you.
Eddie Guardado: Bad knees. Torn rotator cuff. Still pitching. Will be good when healthy, but the injury question is "when", not "if".
Will allow runs just as often as they score them. Poor man's '98 Texas Rangers. Lack of depth will be costly. If reasonably healthy, the team will probably hang around the fringes of the division race until the middle of August, but an injury to a regular could move that up a month. Too many questions and red flags to win.
Five hours to go!